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Monday, February 17, 2014

At the International LiDAR Mapping Forum in Denver, Bruce Dell, Euclideon Pty Ltd president, demonstrated technology for extremely fast processing and visualization of LiDAR point cloud data. Euclideon's technology, called "unlimited detail" professes to "remove all limits surrounding the amount of 3D data that you can capture and visualize." Euclideon markets technology akin to how today's search algorithms retrieve information. According to the company, "at the heart of the technology is a 3D search algorithm that can render unlimited quantities of point cloud data in real-time. As this algorithm efficiently grabs only one point for every screen pixel, it can display models of previously unimaginable sizes at interactive frame-rates, without the need for a powerful CPU or graphics card."

Watch the video below for the demo presented during Dell's presentation during the plenary session:

Continue reading...

by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 11:00 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

During one of the plenary sessions of the International LiDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) in Denver, the discussion turned to the question of how soon or "if" the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would give approval for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to become integrated with the National Airspace System (NAS) despite the recently selected test sites to set policy . Some comments by panelists:

  • Lewis Graham, GeoCue: "You can buy UAS today and get all equipment necessary. You can fly your agriculture field today." Graham noted that UASs can be flown but it is the mode in which you make money that needs to be made clear.
  • Layton Hobbs from Woolpert:  Nobody knows; [FAA} have  overwhelming challenges; Privacy issues will be even harder to tackle
  • Amar Nayegandhi from Dewberry: "Don't use the term "drone"; push the use of the word 'UAS.'"
  • Matt Bethel from Merrick & Co. does not believe that the FAA will allow operation any time soon for UAS.

Several members echoed the observation that the overall acceptance of UAS parallels that of semi-autonomous cars. The technology is moving so rapidly that whether we are talking about unmanned or semi-autonomous cars or aerial vehicles, each will eventually invade highways and airways.

In a separate presentation, Nick Palatiello of MAPPS, provide a list of legislative activity from the U.S. Congress including:

  • HR 1604 - aka "Map it Once, Use it Many." The bill has been re-introduced into the current session by Congressman Lamborn (R-CO). Hearings have been heard but the bill has not been brought to the floor for a vote and may likely die in this session as well.
  • HR 1707 - Border Security Results Act - by Congressman McCaul (R-TX) calls for the use of UAS technology to protect the borders.
  • HR 1382 - Digital Coast Act - by Congressman Rupersberger (D-MD) - "provides an enabling platform integrating geospatial data, decision support tools, training, and best practices to address coastal and emergency management issues and enhance coastal economies and ecosystem services by helping communities with cost-effective and participatory solutions."

Also, nine states now have a law or regulation for UAS usage and 14 other states have introduced legislation.

The recently passed Farm Bill includes money for forestry inventory and the Omnibus bill includes funding for coastal LiDAR provisions.

by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 11:00 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

On February 17, 2014, Eric J. Barron was named as the 18th President of The Pennsylvania State University and will assume responsibilities for the presidency on May 12. Dr. Barron has nearly 35 years of experience in academic administration, education, research and public service, as well as fiscal management within large and complex institutions. He has served as the president of Florida State University in Tallahassee since 2010, and has held several notable positions within higher education, including dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences from 2002 to 2006.

Barron will succeed geographer Rodney A. Erickson, who in 2012 announced his intention to retire before June 30, 2014. I was pleasantly surprised when a fellow Penn Stater told me at band tonight (there are two Penn State Blue Band alumni in the Concord Band) that the new president was "one of yours," meaning another Earth and Mineral Sciences type. I also like that Barron was at Penn State, went elsewhere (a few elsewheres actually including serving as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)) and returned to State College. I am confident that Barron will lead Penn State with a steady hand and suspect he will be a force in climate change studies and enhancing STEM education.

I do recall the buzz in the geography department back in the late 1980s at Penn State when Barron was made the director of the Earth System Science Center. I think the term the other grad students used was "hot shot."

- President Elect Page,  Penn State News

Image courtesy Penn State News.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/17 at 07:30 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The International Lidar Mapping Forum (ILMF) kicked off this morning with a session specifically created to discuss "hot topics" from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). Lewis Graham, president of GeoCue moderated the session that included:

  • Dr. Michael Hauck, executive director of the ASPRS who provided background on the evolution of LiDAR technology
  • Dr. David Maune (pictured at right) from Dewberry that discussed the ASPRS accuracy standards for digital geospatial data
  • Ajit Sampath, a USGS contractor, talked about developing internal data quality metrics for LiDAR and the ongoing research project between the ASPRS and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Hauck raised the question of whether the ASPRS should consider adopting certification requirements for those professionals using LiDAR technology similar to that of GIS certification. Many were in favor while some considered that may be within the bounds of some of the existing certifications that the ASPRS already offers such as a certified photogrammetrist. The argument is that LiDAR, like any other data type utilizing reflected light, visible or otherwise, is already within the bounds of ASPRS certification.

Maune discussed in great detail both the horizontal and vertical accuracy standards (see the ASPRS website for specifics on these standards). However, Maune drew particular attention to the Class IV Vertical Accuracy standards that provide the foundation for the USGS's 3D elevation program (3DEP).  From his presentation:

Class IV elevation data equivalent to 1-foot contour accuracy approximates Quality Level 2 (QL2) from the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment (NEEA) when using airborne lidar point density of 2 points per square meter … the NEEA's Quality Level 1 (QL1) has the same vertical accuracy as QL2 but with point density of 8 points per square meter (Class III density). QL2 lidar specification are found in the USGS Lidar Base Specifications Version 1.1.

Sampath noted that Lidar data have become the primary means of 3D mapping. He said that quality standards transform lidar point cloud from a pretty visualization to metric data. However, quality control and assurance processes are not consistently applied. Pointedly he said that with large projects such as 3DEP, consistent geometric quality assessment methods for procurement purposes are needed. Currently, the USGS and ASPRS are researching a data quality metrics (DQM) test plan with the objective of correctly quantifying the quality of data for procurement and scientific applications.

Sampath noted that quality of calibration manifests most clearly in overlapping regions of adjacent swaths. The importance of well calibrated instrument cannot be overstated and that a consistently quantifiable process to check quality is needed.

Currently, Sampath said that prototype research software that implements DQMs has been developed and are being tested. ASPRS guidelines on geometric quality of lidar data will incorporate the results of the analysis. It is expected that this USGS led research will result in  an across-the board improvement in the quality of lidar data and that new DQMs will provide the geospatial community with the capability to procure.

by Joe Francica on 02/17 at 11:38 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

GIS mapping system aids efficiency - The Telegraph describes Madison County Illinois GIS.
GIS maps on Nashua website show interesting information - The Nashua [NH] Telegraph lists maps, including sidewalk plowing maps, from the city GIS website.
“Kirkland Maps” puts property information online - The Kirkland[WA] Reporter introduces the website, which is not yet mobile ready (because Silverlight).
EPA to open its ArcGIS data to the public - GCN introduces Esri's new "policy" regarding open data.
by Adena Schutzberg on 02/17 at 07:15 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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